A request for approval of a private club permit was tabled Monday by the Independence County Quorum Court.
Beverly Greenfield requested the permit on behalf of a private club to be known as Red’s Hideaway Diner at 5315 N. Central Ave. (Highway 69) north of Batesville and south of Cushman.
The Arkansas legislature changed state law in 2017 to require approval by a county or city in which a proposed private club seeks to locate before it’s submitted to the state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Commission. Previously, the ABC would consider the permit first, doing background checks and receiving public input before granting a permit.
Greenfield appeared before the court to present her request. Her comments and responses to questions from the Justices of the Peace were inaudible to the news media and the audience because of the courtroom’s inadequate sound system.
Part of the proposed ordinance states, “Whereas all applicable laws, rules and regulations have been complied with in presenting this ordinance to the Quorum Court …”
District 10 JP Charles Jordan questioned how the court could determine that “all laws, rules and regulations” have been complied with since the ABC, which sets those rules, has not reviewed the application.
District 4 JP Brad Covington said whatever action the court takes would set a precedent for private club permits that may follow.
County Judge Robert Griffin accepted comments from those who supported the application and from those who opposed it. One woman who supported it said it would not be a bar. Rather, it would be a place where customers could get a “beer with their burger” or have wine with their meal.
A youth pastor at a church in the area opposed the permit, saying he didn’t want children exposed to a place that serves alcohol.
After the comments, District 2 JP Mark Biram moved to table the proposal until the court could get more information from the ABC, perhaps by having a representative attend a meeting. The motion was approved.
Later in the meeting, State Rep. James Sturch, who was in the audience, said he had learned that Jonesboro and Conway have both considered private club permits in those cities. He said he had text messaged authorities in both cities to obtain more information, which he would forward to Judge Griffin.